Tooth Decay & Cavities: Everything You Need To Know

Dental Check Up Showing Tooth Decay

Many of us may have visited the dentist and been told we have some tooth decay or a cavity that needs filling. Decay and cavities are common problems, but they have clear causes and can be prevented through simple dietary and lifestyle measures.

Read on for our handy guide on everything you need to know about tooth decay and cavities.

What Is Tooth Decay And Cavities?

Tooth decay occurs when the hard surface of a tooth – the enamel – begins to wear away. This leads to a hole, or cavity, in the tooth. If tooth minerals continue to erode, the cavity can get bigger and eventually reach the tooth’s dentin and pulp.

Cavities are very common, and often develop in the deep grooves of our molars – the back teeth – and between teeth where your toothbrush doesn’t reach.

How Do I Know If I Have A Cavity Or Decay?

If you have tooth decay, you might have:

  • a toothache
  • tooth sensitivity, especially to foods or drinks that are hot or cold
  • pain when you bite
  • your floss shredding when you clean a particular area
  • a bad taste in your mouth
  • black, brown or white staining on your tooth’s surface
  • swollen, red gums
  • swelling in your face

What Does A Cavity Look Like?

We know that tooth decay can cause staining on the surface of your teeth. In fact, white spots on your teeth is a symptom of demineralisation, the first stage of tooth decay. You can especially notice these spots on the teeth of people who have just had their braces removed and didn’t brush their teeth well during treatment – the white spots marking where their brackets were is a side effect of acids eroding their tooth enamel.

I Have Tooth Decay Or A Cavity – What Can I Do To Fix It?

If you’re asking yourself how to get rid of tooth decay or a cavity, you’ll be pleased to know your saliva is crucial in preventing tooth decay, washing sugars from your mouth before they turn into acids. Problems really begin when the bacterial acid in your mouth is beyond the protective capacity of your saliva.

Your dentist can use fluoride products to fix early-stage tooth decay. They can also apply a sealant to the deeper grooves of your teeth to help prevent decay. If your tooth decay is more severe, you may need a filling or a root canal depending on the size of your cavity. Your dentist will also provide at-home strategies to help you prevent future decay, including:

  • brushing teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • flossing once a day
  • eating a healthy, balanced diet and staying hydrated
  • increasing saliva flow with sugar-free gum

Choose Tomaree Dentistry For Quality Restorative Dental Care

If you’re experiencing the signs and symptoms of tooth decay, visit Tomaree Dentistry Nelson Bay. Our friendly, professional team is on hand to perform fillings, create customised bridges, crowns, implants or veneers, or fit you with partial or full dentures. You can trust us for outstanding, gentle and compassionate care. Contact us on (02) 4981 3114.





Dentist Dr John Cropley

Dr John Cropley

John is the principal dentist at Tomaree Dentistry in Nelson Bay. He graduated in Dentistry from the University of Adelaide and is a long-standing member of the Australian Dental Association (ADA). He is known for his gentle, calm and caring manner and offers services in prevention-based dentistry, emergency care, cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry including endodontics.


6 Tomaree Street
Nelson Bay, NSW 2315
(02) 4981 3114
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